Uber rolled into Sydney today, offering an app-based hire car service at very reasonable prices.
Uber has become a fast growing hit in 20 cities around the world, providing a smart and simple connection between passengers in search of a hire car and hire cars in search of passengers. Uber offers premium quality hire cars, and the service costs roughly 20 to 30 per cent more than a taxi. The service operates entirely through a smartphone app, with all payment processing done via credit card. The experience of having a car pick you up and drop you off without ever taking out your wallet is why Uber likes to call itself "Everyone's private driver".
Uber has been running as a trial in Sydney for a few weeks and it goes live today with close to 50 cars attached to the service. Uber eagerly pointed out that it does not own cars, nor does it employ drivers. The cars are all accredited hire cars that make themselves available via Uber when they are not performing other jobs in their standard hire car schedule.
At launch, the service is available in Sydney only, with a focus on the CBD, Eastern Suburbs and Lower North Shore. However, cars can be ordered from anywhere and to anywhere, but within the focus area, passengers can expect fairly fast availability for a pick up.
Sydney is the first city Uber has launched in the Asia Pacific region, and it is seen as its beach head for expansion into cities like Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo, as well as other Australian cities. Once signed up, the service works in any supported city around the world.
Fares start with a flagfall rate of $8.00, and then charges at $3.25/km and $1.25/minute when waiting in traffic. All fares have a minimum charge of $15.00. Sample fares offered by Uber suggests that a ride from Kings Cross to Surry Hills will be around $23, the CBD to Bondi around $47 and the CBD to Manly around $74.